Monday, 15 October 2018

Me, anxiety and roads

There is a new anxiety I am having now - I can't cross roads on my own, which means that I can't get out on my own as I have to cross roads. I think it has to do with balance. When I went to see my GP a couple of weeks ago, I felt v anxious and my head was all over the place, and so was my body. I ended up having an anxiety attack in the middle of an island in a side road. I felt so off balance that I was going to fall. No one was around to help me and I had to cope on my own. I only managed to get to the clinic because other people did come to cross the main road, so I walked with them. I felt safer doing that. I can get home on my own locally because the buses I get on, both stop just round the corner to my road, so all I have to do is get off, and walk a few minutes round the corner.

This is so frustrating for me as I had been going out on my own a lot up until a couple of weeks ago. I had to because my mum, who walks with a stick, isn't that confident about shopping either. Maybe there was something there hidden in my brain that was anxiety, and something has triggered it all of ten-fold (it feels like hundred fold), telling me that I can't cope with doing that alone anymore and need help. It is hard for me and my mum because she now has to come with me if I need to go somewhere, even across the road to get the paper. I did try the other week, but got to the end of the road to where I usually cross to the garage, and froze, starting another anxiety attack. It is going to be a long, slow journey to get better, I believe. I want to get better.

This is now going to be a diary, which I might publish next year after I am better, journalling how I feel about situations.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Me, Anxiety and Heights

Following my last post, things have been happening; good and bad. The good is that I am now on another tablet for my blood pressure which has calmed me down a bit when I'm indoors. The bad is that my anxiety turned into both anxiety and panic attacks, which were the heart palpitations, shaking, dizziness. I still get anxious about coming downstairs, but have now found a way to cope with it in the morning. I breathe deeply, do a mindful exercise (tense and relax arms, hands, shoulders and head), tell myself to look to the floor, go slow and go. That way does work. I have managed to come downstairs at the first attempt using that method, inc this morning. But the anxiety raises my blood pressure. I haven't gone up and downstairs during the day or evening yet, although I do go and have a nap in the afternoon, when I am all right. I think it is because I am in my bedroom for all that time and not going back and forwards across the upstairs landing which looks down onto the stairs, which I do in the morning. I get changed for bed etc down in our utility room, which does have heating in. It's smaller than the bathroom but will do for now. I thought that it was just the stairs at home that affected me, but when I went into a Boots yesterday and they had a few stairs going down, I froze then, too.

I am going to take it a step at a time, knowing it will be a long term thing until I am better. I am going to my GP on Thursday to ask to get counselling about this, esp now that my anxiety has affected another part of my life - going out on my own, esp crossing the road. We shall see what happens. My next post will be about anxiety going out and what I plan to do about that.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Me and my anxiety

Do you remember last year, shortly after my mum fell downstairs, that I mentioned I got anxious about going downstairs? Well, it's come back again, and a bit worse. I think it started on a Sunday when I had already been upstairs cleaning, gone downstairs for a while then went upstairs to help my mum with something. I got my bag with me and put some things in to take down but it was too bulky and as I went downstairs, it banged against the wall and made me nervous about falling. That was it. I went upstairs again and took a few goes to come down again.

On a couple of times it has taken me half an hour to get the courage to come down, after a lot of tears. It took me two goes this morning. There are other things going on that could be contributing to his anxiety of mine. I am on additional tablets for my blood pressure that has an 'uncommon' side effect of anxiety and nervousness, and I am very nervous about watching my mum in the garden as she has lost her balance a few times this year. Thankfully, no injuries, just scratches. She now uses the big fork to walk with as a stick and something to balance with as she digs and hoes the weeds.

I also hate escalators and steep slopes. I avoid the former if I can find another way to where I have to go. I encountered a steep climb this morning and my mum had to force me to walk up a bit to get across the road to where we wanted to go, which happened to be closed.

I have found that I'm not the only one who hates stairs and these high things. I posted about this on a FB group and got a lot of comments.

I hope that it doesn't last too long. I am currently having to get changed for bed and brush my teeth downstairs in the utility room, with the heating on.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Do I believe in angels or the afterlife?


Do I believe in ghosts and/or the afterlife? I don't know, to be honest. I would have said no before, but there must be something inside me that does sort of belief in some thing because I have written YA ebooks about teenage guardian angel (The Guardian Angels series), the Geraldine's Gems series about a lady who returns to help her living relatives and there are ghosts that appear in the Singleton series. And now there is this new series of short stories about ghosts helping families in crisis. 'The Family Helpers' due to be out soon. So, I will leave you to work that one out.

I have also written and had published a short story in the magazine Spirit & Destiny about a robin who is clumsy and could be an animal protector. I had read the magazine for a while to see what they like to publish and what their readers are interested in. It is all about angels, afterlife and crystals etc.

So, maybe there is an inkling of the idea that I do believe in some way of angels and the afterlife. 

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Discoverability - Publishing in different formats


Today is about getting discovered. One way is to publish your book in different formats. What do I mean? There are 3 that I know about: audiobook, paperbook and ebook.

For those of you who write for children, paperbook is probably the only version to do, esp if you write for younger readers eg under 9 year-olds. I currently write for 7-9s and will only publish in print for that age range, especially that I have discovered children of that age do like paper books more. When I come to write the next series, which will be for 9-12s, I might do an ebook version, too. Children of that age do have Kindles as I have been told by one mother who wanted a book for her daughter who was ten. My previous children's books are only available in ebooks for now, but I plan to start putting them back into print this year.

For those of you who write for adults, all three choices are good options, esp ebook and print. There is also audio. I won't be doing this as I don't make enough money on my adult ebooks to warrant this.

I believe the more formats you have out there, the more readers you can reach. I do like to have print copies of my books to hand, esp if I go to a meeting or a library where I can meet people and show them my book. I might sell a copy or two.

So, if you write for older children, think about publishing your book in print and digital. If you write for adults, think about publishing your book in all three formats.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

More changes in Womagland

That is the land of women's magazines, esp fiction. Authors who write fiction for womags, esp Woman's Weekly, are up in arms at the moment because of recent changes that have been found out. They weren't happy before because their payment date was changed to when their story was published and not on acceptance like it used to be. Now they are even more unhappy as there are two more changes now that the company who owns the magazine has been taken over. The following changes are:

1. Stories accepted, whether by new or established authors, will have acceptances on an 'all rights' basis. This is not good at all. All rights means that they take all your rights away from you so you are no longer the copyright holder of the story, and you can't do anything else with that story yourself, inc submitting it to the ALCS. It also means the magazine can do what they like with it and maybe not pay you for it. Wrong on all accounts.

2. New authors who get their story accepted also have a pay cut. It used to be £150 but it's now £100, and possibly no chance to have a raise with more stories published.

So, if you do want to have a story accepted by Woman's Weekly, please think again. If you're not sure about the contract that comes with it, you could try to get it changed but it might not work. The only option is to refuse to sign and find another market for that story. or self-publish it.

The best blog to read about all this and more on writing for womags is https://womagwriter.blogspot.com/. Even the author who runs this blog says she would refuse to sign the contract on the all rights basis now.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Support your local library

I had a book launch at my local community library on Saturday, and it was brilliant. The librarians are very friendly and helpful, esp the main librarian called Sue. This is why I want authors and readers to support their own local libraries, esp community ones. I have been doing events and taking part in the library's own events such as fayres over the last 5 years. They have been understanding and supportive of me and my Asperger's, and are always helping me and praising me to their customers. So, if you are an author, please think about doing events at your local library, even more if it is a community led one like mine. There are a few others libraries in my borough, but none of them have been interested in me having events there. It has just been the community led one, who support me as an indie author. I thank them each time for having me. But I made a bigger thank you to them, esp Sue, by mentioning them in the acknowledgement pages in the back of Susie and the Jiggling Jumper (available on Amazon).

So, go and find your local library and ask if you can do events there from time to time. You will be bringing in more readers to them as well as yourself. A win-win, I believe.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Patience is a virtue...

It certainly was for me the last week when I had been trying to publish my latest children's book on Createspace. I didn't complete the first setup to start with, then there was a problem with the cover, then the interior file, then the cover, then inside again. The cover was sorted out by my illustrator. It was accepted. The interior file (contents) aren't perfect as there are no page numbers and the text isn't the same length on each page (like the others) but I am going to get it sorted out very soon as my illustrator has said she does interior formatting, and I will ask her to help me out to reformat it. Anyway, Tuesday just gone I finally got Susie out the in world. Her story is now on Amazon, available at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Susie-Jiggling-Jumper-Rainbow-School/dp/1720452539/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1528460311&sr=1-1&keywords=susie+and+the+jiggling+jumper.

This story is close to my heart because Susie is based on me when I was at primary school, with Asperger's and heart problems (I still have both).

I hope you will buy it and spread the word about Asperger's and heart problems that go with it.


Sunday, 3 June 2018

I am a hybrid author

Keep meaning to write this post but so busy with home things going on and writing my books. Am here now.

I believe now that I am a hybrid author. For those not in the know, a hybrid author is someone who writes for both mainstream/traditional publishers and is self-published. I always thought of myself as just an indie author until last year that is. I read a blog post by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (do read it if you are an author) last year, and she wrote that she is a hybrid author. She wrote that as well as self-publishing her books, she also writes short stories for magazines. It got me thinking - what have I had published in mainstream magazines? Fillers. Lots of them over the years. So I have been published traditionally too. This makes me a hybrid author. I am quite pleased with that title. I will be having a short story published in a magazine in July, so that definitely will make me a hybrid author.

So, if you think you are just an indie author, think about what else you might have published? Esp in magazines. You could be surprised like I was.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

ASD, gastro problems and anxiety - tips to help

I don't recall having any gastro problems as a child, or being anxious to cause it. I was anxious, I know, cos I used to bite my fingernails (not done so for over 20 years now.)

I am not a health expert, so these are just my ideas.

If your child does have gastro problems cos of anxiety, then try to calm them down. Maybe with a toy they like, or singing if that's what they like doing. Get their mind away from what is going on with their body to something they enjoy.

For older children to adults. There are two ways that help me at times, that you could try.

1. Deep breathing exercise that can be called 'the 4-5-4'. You breathe through the nose to the count of 4, hold for 5 seconds, then breathe out of your mouth to the count of 4, relaxing as you go. Do that a few times. I have done this on a bus to go shopping to calm my anxiety so I didn't have to dash to the toilet.

2. Mindfulness. I was taught this in CBT. I usually do it in bed at night. I lie down, arms at my side, breathing in and out calmly. I tense my feet for a few seconds then release, then my legs, working my way up to my head. Then I loosen my body so I'm relaxed enough to turn over and go to sleep. It is meant to work.

I hope these can be of help to your autistic child.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

ASD and IBS

April is Autism Awareness month, and IBS and Stress Awareness month, and all three of these can be closely connected. People with autism often have gastro problems, which IBS is one of, and stress from autism can cause IBS, and this is why I am posting about all three now.

I have autism and IBS. My IBS started when I was an adult in the 90s. Most of the time it is caused by foods. Other times it is from nerves, anxiety and stress.

My tips if it is due to foods is to work out which ones cause the problem and eliminate them for a month, then add them back in to your diet one by one with a few days in between. That way you will get to know what the foods are to avoid. My foods are many. I'm intolerant to dairy, gluten. I can't eat raw apples, carrots, or dark green veg, except a few Brussels. I can't eat too much fibre either. I have since found out that many of these are high FODMAP foods. (Fermented, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monos and Polyols (sweeteners ending in 'ol')).

If you know for certain that a particular food causes a problem eg stomach upset, then avoid it altogether. I avoid all dairy and gluten foods, esp butter which makes me v ill, except Marmite. I esp avoid wheat as I know that does give me IBS flare ups.

So that is what to do if food causes you gastro problems. What if it's anxiety and stress? Read my next post for that topic....

Monday, 2 April 2018

Anxiety in adults - Tips


I have had anxiety with meltdowns, mainly as an adult. I don't know about other Aspie adults, but I have found that my anxiety has got worse as I get older. But I have found ways to cope with the anxiety. Here are the situations I have been in and my tips to cope with them.

1. Shopping – Always take more money than is needed. This was the situation I was in when I had my first meltdown and had gone shopping on my own for the first time. I didn't have enough money to buy the tapestry threads I wanted, which upset me greatly.

2. Shopping with someone else – Arrange to meet at a certain point in the shop or outside if you get separated.

3. Going to a new place - Work out times and transport to get there. Leave with plenty of time, especially if it's for an appointment. When there, take a map. Make a note of any landmarks eg a shop or statue, so you know where you are going.

4. Job interview application – If you feel it will help you, then do put down on the form that you have Asperger's/autism, and explain how it affects you, what they can do to help you in the interview. Eg eyes, questions etc. Familiarise yourself with the place and job. If you don't understand a question, ask them to repeat it but in simple language. I recall the last interview I had when I only suspected I had Asperger's. A couple of the questions I took too long to answer and replied wrongly. If I had asked for it to be repeated simply, I might have got a different outcome – fail. As it was, I didn't get the job. It turned out to be the right thing in the end, as I got the time to find out about myself more and get diagnosed.

5. Appointments running late – This one really makes me anxious and worked up. If your appointment is running v late, do tell the consultant when you see them. They will understand, and hopefully will arrange your next appointment to be at an earlier time in the day.


Do you find anxiety is worse as an adult? How do you cope?

Friday, 30 March 2018

ASD and common co-morbidity

I was born with a ventricular septal defect (hole in the heart or congenital heart disease). It wasn't until I was diagnosed with Asperger's in 2011 and read the report that I discovered that this is a common co-morbidity with ASD. Who knew?

So how does it affect me? I am slow, physically, than others. I get a stitch in my side and breathless when I either walk fast, go up a hill or run.

At school I hated PE because I'd be one of the last people to be chosen for teams; probably because I was slower. I hated the gym sessions in primary school. I couldn't do handstands because the blood would rush to my head and I'd go dizzy. In secondary school I remember when we had a sports day at a nearby stadium. Most of the school walked there but I had to get the bus with a few others in my class. We got off at the wrong stop and were late for the start.

When I was little I was told that the hole would decrease in size when I got older but over the last couple of years, I've been told that it has done the opposite and stretched. I still get breathless going too fast or up hill. Sometimes when I walk fast I can hear my heart beat louder, as it's worked hard.

So, that is my common co-morbidity with ASD. Do you have one, too? How does it affect you?

I have loosely based Book 3 of my Rainbow School series ' Susie and the Jiggling Jumper' on me. Susie has a heart condition which makes her slower than her classmates and her little sister, so she has to overcome this with her ASD.

Susie's advice with coping with the anxiety of a heart condition is: 'Don't worry about this. Do things at your own pace and don't feel pressured into doing something that you know you can't do.'

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Autism and hobbies and interests


Here is a rough guide how parents and teachers and other guardians can help children with autism use their special interests.

Subjects: Art, science, music, craft, maths
Skills: Drawing, creating, writing, making, numbers
Knowledge: Birds, pictures, tunes, plants, patterns

Encourage the child to work on related activities to do with their interest. Eg if it is music, they can draw instruments, write their own tunes, write a guide, photograph things. Go to places of interest and learn about music. Join groups of same interest. Play the music instruments.

All these can help the child to socialise and not be alone all the time. They can also learn more and get educated. It could later on become a career.

So, what about me? Well, I liked writing stories at school. English, as it was known then, was my favourite lesson despite being bullied. And look what I do know – I am an author writing for adults and children.

This is a brief guide to a full book I have planned to write about hobbies and interests for children with autism, as part of the Rainbow School guide series and 'Learn about autism'.

Monday, 26 March 2018

National Autism Awareness Week - What I am up to

It is National Autism Awareness Week this week, so I will be raising awareness of Asperger's/autism and what it means for the person with it. I things planned this week to do this. Here is what I will be up to.

I shall blog during the week about living with autism as a child and as an adult. Children with autism grow up to be adults with autism, it just doesn't disappear.

On Thursday 29th I will be at Sydenham Community Library from 10.30am to 12nn raising awareness of it. I will be selling my Rainbow School books and leaflets about Asperger's and autism. The library will have on display other books about Asperger's and autism, as well as posters promoting my event.

I will be tweeting a lot about Asperger's and autism using relevant hashtags.

So, watch out for my posts on FB and my tweets.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

How I plot my books


How do you plot your novels? Above is how I plotted my latest Rainbow School book. I know that some writers use Scrivener, but I prefer pen and paper and to have the sheets in front of me. I can't write straight onto a computer as I get brain freeze, and I want to have the plot in front of me as I write the book. Above you will see I have written brief chapter summaries. That is how I work. But this book is different to the others in the series. I knew whose story each book would tell, but this one I wasn't sure as it features all the characters who appear in the school show. I thought it might be Billy, to show how he has improved but thought, he has already told his story (Billy and the Sparkling Socks). Then I began writing it last month at the weekend writing retreat and a new character came along - Erin. I had a girl in mind some time ago. She wasn't at school before due to illness and was back now. As soon as I started writing about her, I knew this would be her story. She experiences the magic via Alistair and dancing with him; she is a keen dancer like him. Once I have written the first draft, I will have to go back and add in more detail about Erin's background and her home life. More work for me, but am loving writing these books.

So, how do you plot? On your pc or on paper?

Sunday, 4 February 2018

A poem about visiting the dentist

I wrote this the evening after I had been to the dentist at Guy's. I had left home at 9.30am for my appointment at 10.30am, and didn't get home until 1.55pm. I was in there for just over two hours, then when I got to the train station, the train that was going to my stop suddenly announced it wasn't and I had to get another train which was 15 mins later. Phew. Here it is

I went to the dentist the other day,
and that's quite a story.
First of all
they asked me my medical history.

Then I saw the consultant
about my antibiotic cover,
so the treatment could begin.
when that was over,

They checked my teeth
to see if they were OK.
Another wait before
I had to have an X-ray.

I hate those bites
they make me gag,
so pleased it was done,
I picked up my bag.

Then another wait,
the X-ray showed I needed a filling
I have to go another day,
all that waiting, it was killing.

Then I got to the trains,
the one I find wasn't going to my stop,
yet another wait,
I felt like doing a strop.

I'd left home at 9.30,
it was now four hours later.
I was finally home,

so glad to see my mater.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Writing goals for 2018

As I mentioned in my last post, my writing goals for this year have slightly changed. I shall tell you why below.

My main goal last year was to get short stories accepted by women's magazines such as Woman's Weekly or The People's Friend. Well, that never came to anything and I realise why now. The stories I wrote weren't suited for them. I liked writing the stories but I now realise that they weren't the ones I enjoyed writing the most. The one I enjoyed doing the most was the one that did get accepted and published by the overseas magazine eg it had the sense of a ghost in it. So, one of my goals this year is to try to get another story accepted by this magazine.  I also want to get a story accepted by Spirit & Destiny magazine, who publish stories about magical realism topics such as angels and crystals. Just my cup of tea.

So my main aim this year is to write the genre that I enjoy working on, and that is magical realism. I have been writing Book 3 of my Secrets of Singleton series, which has made me realise this is what I like doing. So I want to write Book 4 this year, and continue next year.

I am continuing writing and publishing my Rainbow School series this year. I want to publish Book 3 (Susie) and Book 4 (Qessa) this year.

Also, as I had a few successes again last year with fillers being published in magazines, I am going to work on more of these this year. I have already sent a few off already to magazines and papers. Because of these successes, I have begun work again on the ebook about writing fillers, to include different markets and what they award for them.

One other creative thing I have begun this year is to write poetry. Now that I am not writing stories for womags, it frees up my mind for poems. I have already sent a few to magazines that publish them, which are womags. So I might end up being published in a womag, after all. 

So, they are my main writing goals this year. I shall blog when I get any successes with these. Watch this space....